Jay Z's Roc Nation slammed Italian football fans for ‘heinous' racist behavior directed at Romelu Lukaku.
During a crucial stoppage-time penalty in Tuesday's Coppa Italia semifinal, a group of Juventus fans behind the goal tormented the Belgian striker with racist monkey noises.
After successfully scoring, Lukaku silenced certain Juventus supporters with a finger to his lips. However, the referee considered the celebration inflammatory and subsequently issued a second yellow card, resulting in his dismissal from the game.
Roc Nation passionately backs Lukaku, championing the fight against discrimination
Roc Nation Sports, a branch of Jay-Z's Roc Nation, represents Romelu Lukaku as his sports management agency.
The company took out a full-spread advertisement in a leading Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, in response to the appalling treatment of the player.
Furthermore, the ad actively urges fans to condemn racism and promote inclusivity within the sport.
“Dear Italy, Do better. Want better. Be better,” starts the penned letter.
“In professional [football], Black players have been subjected to hatred during professional [football] games. The hatred has displayed itself in the form of monkey chants, racial slurs and banana peels tossed at the best players in the world, as the world watches, as the children watch, as the players' families watch.”
“No one has faced any consequences for this heinous behavior. Nothing has changed. No action has been taken.”
This is not the first team opponent fans have hurled racist taunts toward the Belgium forward. Cagliari fans racially abused the striker in a Serie A match back in 2019. “We're going backwards,” said Lukaku immediately after the game.
To make things worse, Inter Milan's Ultras defended Cagliari fans' racist abuse.
In 2019, the Italian football federation declared their commitment to combating racism by introducing new measures, such as suspending matches during racist incidents, fining teams whose fans engaged in discriminatory behavior, and closing stadiums in extreme cases.
Despite these initiatives, their effectiveness remains questionable, as evidenced by the discrimination Lukaku endured on the field this past Tuesday.
“We call on the worldwide community of sports – players, team owners, artists, brands and all fans – to denounce this racist behavior and hold bigots accountable to a human standard. One which upholds decency, respect and compassion for others,” Roc Nation's ad implores.
“The first team is the human team. Let's work together to cut racism out of the game, for good.”
Photos: Wikimedia Commons/Jorgebarrios + Instagram/romelulukaku